Monday, May 27, 2013

You See

Oh God, this hurts so very much.  Today my heart is crushed again.  I wait and I hope.  I wait in stillness for You.  Waiting for You to stand up, to defend Your daughter from the tongues, to be my honor.  And there is stillness. 

I asked again for help.  Gathering my courage around me once more, and showing one I thought may help that awful slander from one over me.  One who has known and yet chosen to close his eyes.  To shoot arrows rather than to address a problem.  To blame the wounded rather than correct the one who wounds.  To himself cause more wounding than anyone else. 

I expected help.  And I did not get it.  Again.  Oh, God, You see.  You see what those in authority say and do, and You see how they would rather defend themselves than deal with wrong.  How much easier it is to dismiss me as "that woman" and label me.  My heart is bruised inside me.

Lord, what they say is pure evil.  It has no part with Your Spirit, no part with the light.  I wait for You.  I wait.  My heart grows weary with waiting.  My faith hangs on desperately, but faintly.  I wait for You.  Where are You?  Why do You let evil prosper and the weak be wounded?  I know their words are not Your words, but the force of them hurts.  And even more is the silence of those who know but walk by on the other side.

He is Your child, Lord.  He is yours.  You have seen all that he has said, all that he has spoken to my husband, telling him that "I don't know how anyone could force themselves to live with that woman".  You have seen, Lord.  How long will You be silent?  I want justice.  I want to be worth being defended.  I want to hear the Lion's roar, the Father's voice of outrage over the treatment of His child.

And I hear silence.

The silence mocks me.  It in itself whispers, "see, no one cares" and "you are not worth it to anyone".

Oh, Lord, where are You?  Will you let evil crush me?  Will You be silent when Your own demean who I am?  When will You stand up?

I want You to crush him like a bug.  To open his eyes, to let him see who You think I am.  To hear Your voice speaking of me.  To make him look in Your eyes and answer for every evil word.  I want him gut punched with the truth.   That is my hurting heart, my desire for justice, the cry of pain deep within.

Yet You cried out as You suffered, "Father forgive".  Ah, Lord, I don't have Your strength, and it is not just a matter of hours, but of years.  I grow weary and my strength fails. Be my rock.  Be my shelter.

What I so love about You is that You deal with my weaknesses and sins gently.  And he is Your child.  So my desire that You defend me and crush him like a bug is out of line, it comes from my pain.  Strengthen my heart to cry for justice but not revenge.  But Lord, You see!  How long, oh Lord?  Deal with him gently, correct him in love, but correct him please!  Don't leave me living in this years more. I haven't the strength.

Father, let me hear Your voice.  In the middle of all the voices all saying different things, let me hear Your voice.  Let me hear who You say I am.  I need that.  In the midst of all that is said about me, I need to hear Your voice.

Give me courage.  To risk again.  To make the right choices.  Wisdom to know what is right.  Strength to offer forgiveness where it is not even sought yet.  To have grace among those who judge without seeking truth.

Lord, these are Your own who are causing pain and scars in my life.  Where are You?  It is so hard at times to see You, to trust You despite how Your people act.  Your own people shoot arrows and defile with words.  The people who are Your voice down here.  It is bewildering and confusing.  I struggle.  I feel like a child again, abused by those in authority, confused, not knowing how to act, with no one able to believe, no one ready to help.  Different abuse, but the abuse of power, the demeaning of my person, the making me an object, not a human.  How do You allow this?  When will you step in?

My heart hurts. I struggle to believe, to trust, to hang on to You in the middle of it all.  But You are all I have.  I cling to You... in pain, with unanswered questions, with deep hurt, with the silence and mockery of Your people in my ears, I cling to You.  Even if I grow too weak and my hands grow tired and I let go of trust, You will not let go of me.  I rest in that.

But, oh Lord, how long will You be silent?  How long will You let evil continue?  Will You not defend Your daughter?  Be my glory, the lifter of my head.  I need you.  I need Your voice.

You are the Ancient of Days.  The God who sees.  The father to the fatherless.  The Truth.  You are the God who is wrapped in light.  You are the defender of the weak.  I rest in You.  I rest my case in Your hands.  My eyes are on You.  I wait.  Still waiting, I wait and with all the trust I have, I trust.  

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Fellowship of the Scarred

It bothers me every time I hear it, and sadly, I still hear it often.  It is usually murmured after news stories. Stories like these three women who escaped in Cleveland.

"She'll never be normal after that..."

Ok, public service announcement here:  Christians, we need to STOP saying that.

Have we no faith in a life transforming God?  Have we no confidence in the healing power of the Holy Spirit?  Have we no trust in One who says "Behold I make all things new"?  Do we not follow a Savior whose scarred hands settled the doubts of Thomas?

God is perfectly capable of healing wounds.  Yes, it takes work.  Yes, it is painful.  Yes, it takes time.  Yes, we may be different after that, bearing the marks of scars on our souls.

But there is a vast difference between wounds and scars.

Wounds require attention, care, bandaging, cleaning out.  Wounds require action.  Scars don't.

Scars are marks of something past.  Some scars are hardly noticeable.  Others are glaring.  But a scar marks something past, something healed.  There are different responses to scars.  The polite ones range from ignoring them, especially if you are not close to the person.  A closer friendship will allow the permission to ask kindly, "May I ask what happened to leave that scar?"  It doesn't allow permission to demand, but to ask.

A scar sometimes allows hurting people the chance to ask strangers, "Do you mind if I ask.... my sister just got hurt, and I see you have that scar... can I ask.....?" It is like a silent advertisement that you have gone through pain, which allows those suffering pain the freedom to ask when they need help.

But only a rude and crass person would walk up to a scarred person and laugh, point fingers, or demean the scarred in anyway.

With  the statistics in the US being now somewhere between one in every three or one in every four girls having been sexually abused in one way or another, we must stop responding to stories like the wonderful escape of the three captives in Cleveland with the murmured, "poor girls, they will never be normal after that..."  Chances are, someone in the room you are in has been abused also, and you will be hurting them.  Making them think that who they are is not ok.  Shaming them into silence so they can appear "normal".  Making them think they are not worth love anymore.

We may be scarred, but we can heal, and we can live, love, and laugh and be whole.  God can do that.  I know because He has done this with me.

But then there are those who not only whisper, but attack.  That is what I have lived in for ten years.  Dick has heard about my past.  No, he did not whisper the "oh, she will never be normal" about it.  No.  He went one further.  He said to many, "She is damaged from her past, and is not ok."  Then, adding insult to injury, he questioned my truth telling and suggested that I was "making up stories because if she had really been abused, she would have told her parents".

I have told my parents.  When I was an adult.  Like most abuse victims, I did not tell them when I was a five year old child.  A basic search of sexual abuse will inform anyone that not only do most abuse victims not tell, but even most adult rape victims will not report it.  We are ashamed.  Our shame is added to by people who respond like Dick.

But his view is not one I own.  I can throw it out too.  It is not even one the majority of the church holds anymore.  Thankfully, people are speaking up.  People are talking about their pasts, about their healing, about their stories.  I am thrilled to see this happening.  Because if we carry our healed scars and are able to talk about them, we make the subject mentionable.  We make it safe.  We label ourselves as approachable people.  And perhaps by so doing, we can save one other girls from years of silent pain. 

Yes, sexual abuse happens.  It is awful.  It hurts.  It causes deep wounds.  But, yes, God can heal those wounds.  God can mend our hearts.  We have not lost our value.  We can heal, smile, laugh, love, and even trust again.  We, the scarred ones, stand as living testimony to that truth.  I would not lose my scars if I could because my scars show others that you can heal from this.

But those same scars will cause some people, like Dick, to speak evil of me, to malign me.  He doesn't understand the difference between wounds and scares.  He is grossly misinformed, even telling me that he knows nothing of sexual abuse because it just doesn't happen in his community.  Hmm, yes... 

His words have hurt.  They have stung.  Scars are sensitive, and to hit them is painful.  His words have caused many tears late at night when I am alone.  But I know that my tears are precious to God.  He stores them in a bottle.  He sees the pain caused.

It is wrong.  God came to heal.  To seek the lost, to bind wounds, to proclaim liberty.  We are to follow His lead.  We are not to abuse the abused.  Sadly, Dick is not alone.  There are others, perhaps unknowingly, who do this with their comments.  But Dick is one of the worst I have seen.

If he wants to walk around and whisper about my past in an attempt to devalue who I am, let him.  I will shout it from the rooftops.  I am not ashamed of what evil men have done to me.  It is not my shame, it is theirs.  I will proclaim what God has done.  God has clothed me with dignity.  He has been Himself my glory, and He has healed my wounds.  I bear scars.  I will until I die, I suppose.  Jesus bears scars, too.  I am in good company now - the fellowship of the scarred.  I pray that my scars will bring hope to others with wounds.  Healing exists in the living God.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Throwing Off Words

I am going to tell a story.  It is a story that will be hard to believe, but sadly it is true, and there is more that could be written than I will.  Trust me, if I was to write out the completeness of what has been said about me, well, like Roald Dahl author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and other great books would say, "It would gobsmack you, curdle your toes, and turn your hair white".

It is a story of abuse.  Abuse of leadership.  It is more than sheer incompetence.  It is deliberate blindness and bias.  And I suffered it for years.

Today, I began smiling. I'm actually pretty happy.  Something hit me today, and has me smiling.

I've had this leader over us.  A good friend of my husband.  The one my husband confides in.  And the one who had oversight of us until recently.  You know him as Dick - a random name, appropriate for this setting.

Dick has been telling my husband for years that I am not normal.  He even says that my whole family is weird. (My family that has served him with grace for years. Still does, even knowing what he says about us.)  Dick has taken what has been said about me in anger, and believed everything without ever coming to me and saying, "Is this or that true?".  Then he has added to that, and gone to other people above me who might help me and written them letters detailing how he thinks I have a psychological problem, might be a pathological liar, and am so irritating to live with that no wonder my husband blows up.  He even stated, "I don't know of anyone else in the world who could continue to live with her the way he has. and finally, when a person is being tortured again and again, he only responds like the way a cat would. He lashes back, it's not right, but I can see how it happens."

Really! Wow, really makes you wonder why he hasn't been successful in helping my husband with his anger.  Kind of hard to do when you tell him, "Don't get angry, but wow, I sure see why you do!"

But I am happier than I have been for a long time.  Why? Because I am dumping what Dick said.  No longer putting my head down and thinking, "this is what all Christians will think of me, too, if I ask for help".  Instead I am thinking, "This is what one, way off base, blinded by bias, incompetent person said of me."  There is a world of difference in those two.

Actually what Dick has done borders on spiritual abuse.  And it is not me.  It is not who I am.  I may have to jump through some hoops to prove that and make whispers cease, but it is not me.  I don't have to be ashamed of his words.  The shame for his words lies with him, and he will have to carry it, not me.  It will come out as part of the healing/counseling process when we are working with the right counselor, and I will dump his words, his opinions, and his harsh judgements away.

He will one day cover his face in shame from them.  I do not need to.  It is not my shame that one man thinks and has said awful things about me.  It is abuse, and it is his shame.  Very similar to other people who abuse - that is their shame, and not mine.  I will not carry it.  I will not be silent about it.  I will not hide my face and think less of myself because of it.  It is their shame, their wrong, their weight to carry.  When I spoke up about abuse, instead of condemnation, I got affirmed, valued, loved.  It is the same with these words, too.  I do not need to carry them.  I can speak.  I can hold my head up.  The words do not reflect on who I am; they reflect on who he is. 

There is freedom in that, and today I am happy.  Learning that freedom.

(Just to let you know, Dick has not one iota of training that would allow him to make the statements he has made.)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Wrong Thing to Tell a Nurse

Sometimes I have to work very hard to keep my straight face on.  At times, I am harshly criticized for my failures at this.  But sometimes people just don't know, and they say things that... well, I struggle not to smile.

In our meeting a few weeks ago with these four who gathered to read us a letter, there was a time when we raised a question.  One of the four answered that we will just do as we are told and ask no questions because these people will know better than us. "It is like", he said, "being sick, and when you are sick and you go to the hospital, you just do what the doctor says, and you don't ask questions."

I was all I could do to keep a straight face.  That was most definitely the wrong thing to tell a nurse!!!

I am here today BECAUSE people asked doctors questions.  Three time my life almost ended or ended in serious harm because of doctors (or once a nurse's) actions, and it is only because people dared to say no and ask questions that I am alive.

When I was a baby, a pharmacy dispensed the wrong medicine.  My dad gave me one dose, and could not wake me for the next dose.  He phoned the doctor who annoyedly told him to just pour it in my mouth anyway.  My dad refused, and instead took me to the hospital.  I was in a coma and stayed that way for several days.  One more dose would have killed me.

Later, when I was very sick with a long-term condition I have, there was no choice but a certain medicine.  I had one dose and it made me too dizzy to walk, and I felt horrible.  I had the next dose, and I couldn't lift my head up more than 30 degrees off the bed without blacking out.  My mom phoned in from overseas and called up a nurse friend of hers who almost shrieked, "No!  They should not use that medicine on her!!  It has awful side effects that can be deadly.  There is a safer drug."  She phoned my doctor herself and questioned him.  The drug was changed, and I lived.  I still live today healthy and happy on that new one.

Another time, overseas, flat on my back in a foreign hospital half unconscious, I was aware of nurses starting hanging IV drugs in my line.  I groggily asked what it was, and the nurse said, "I don't know.  The doctor said you have to have it."  At the same instance, I felt something that could only be explained as liquid fire in my arm, and told my husband, "shut it off, now!"  Thankfully, my husband did.  To this day, I do not know what that drug was as no one could ever come up with an explanation, and it took me days to be strong enough to question and be alert.  But thankfully, my husband shut it off, and the drug only made it two feet down my vein.  That whole arm swelled to the size of a watermelon, the skin went red, and began to peel.  Whatever it was, I was intensely allergic to it, and it could have killed me if I hadn't known to react immediately despite doctor's orders.

Yes, that comment of "well, we don't question the doctors" was not the right thing to say to a nurse!!

In fact, all it told me was that they were using blind, unquestioning judgement, so it became even more imperative that we fully research and check out anything suggested to us.

That's ok, because when the meeting was over, one of the men looked at two other of the men and said, "Ok, we need to go back to the office and have a threesome."  I excused myself quickly to the bathroom where I could bury my face in a towel and silently shake from laughter.  (And yes, English is his mother tongue, but knowing the meaning of words must not be his strong point!)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Waiting for Hope

It is hard to write right now. Hard to capture my thoughts on paper. Hard to make sense of what I am living in. I don't understand or even have a clue of what is happening. I am standing by... this morning as I drove home from dealing with some paperwork, I thought, "This year, the 2012/2013 school year, has been one of being on permanent wait." A constant holding my breath for something to happen.

 I don't know what will yet.

 It has been a year of change, and it will bring change. That we know, but I do not have a clue what that change will be.

 Things will happen, and people will put our lives into the hands of other people. At first, they tried to send us for counseling to a non-Christian place that practices Hinduistic beliefs. I shook my head and wondered... it is a sad day indeed when light goes to darkness for help. But I was cornered with people saying that if I didn't do what they said, then I was unwilling to get help.

 I am willing to get help. But when you want help for a spiritual problem, I've learned, be careful what spiritual powers you call on for help! I wanted help to be done under the control and influence and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

 Strangely, no one saw a problem with what they were planning. I prayed. I prayed! And I carefully tried objecting. The problem, I think, is that no one researched very well. They looked at a few opening pages of this place, but they did not read the articles and newsletters they put out. If they had, I hope they would have been as concerned as I was. I hope.

 I learned today that that is off the table. Only because I questioned it, but it is. Thank God!

 Even our pastor said, "well, you are people of discernment, so we can trust that you would discern what was right and wrong there." In a way, he is right. I could discern what was wrong. But when you are wounded and hurting... you are vulnerable. At that time, you want to be cared for by people who are in the Spirit. Who can see you as beings complete with physical, emotional, and spiritual sides.

 We had a person come recently to listen to us. That was a blessing. The previous meeting with four people was very different. No one listened one bit. No one said, "what do you feel you need?" They just sat and read a letter and told us what to do. It was strange. Even half threatened us if we didn't agree with them. Attacked when we had questions about the process. It was so different than I expected....

 But, after I raised questions about the place they were considering, they sent someone to listen. He did, and I think he got an extremely clear picture of what we were facing. Very clear.

 So now we wait again.

 And in the wait, God is giving time for a whole other army of prayer warriors to be called in. People who know what they are facing. And in the middle of this crisis, I've become strong enough to say "I won't be silent anymore." So I am talking. And what I have kept hidden out of shame and out of fear and intimidation, I am bringing into the light. I am speaking up and able to ask that the right people be put in charge, and the wrong people be removed. I am learning that I can have a voice - even in the face of powerful people banded together. I am reaching out, building connections, speaking up, and finding strength.

 I'm not sure about hope yet. At times I hold it, and at times, I lose it. Yet an important things happened on Saturday with this man here. The basic problem was laid bare, clearly out in the light. There was no agreement to work on it, but the problem was brought into the light. I believe in the power of light.

 Sadly, my husband has been improperly mentored for years. By a man who has told him that he does not know how anyone could live with me, and that no wonder he gets angry (don't, you know, but man! I see see why you do!) This from a man who has never lived any closer than 500 kms, and who has never stayed with me for more than a week. The saddest thing about that is that it has only helped my husband walk further away from God rather than encourage him to deal with things in his life - we all have things in our lives - and bring him closer to God. Now we reap the fruit of wrong mentoring, and I am afraid it will take longer and be harder than if he had been given godly advice.

 But God is able, and I hang on to Him. It took me awhile to "right" again, like a bouy tossed at sea, but I am stabilizing. I lost friends and support, but I reached out for more. Life in isolation is not healthy, nor does it contribute to growth. I reached out, close by, and back in time - to people who know me, who love me, and who pray. And in their love, in their encouragement, in their strength, and in their validating words, I am stabilizing again, finding my faith, holding on to the God who never let go of me.

 I still don't know what tomorrow holds. I pray desperately for my husband who has a choice ahead of him. Pray for the light to shine, for grace to overcome fear, for love to win against pain. I have questions for God, but no doubt about Him. Pain, but trust. At times, a very weak trust - like a weak, thready pulse in a seriously wounded person, but still a trust. I wait for hope.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

About That Password Protect....

You can also just leave a comment along with a way to write back to you, and I will send it to you.

Back Online Again

Hi there! Sorry, I had to take my blog off the air for a time. I'm back online now. I'm working with a new system. There are posts that have a "show encrypted text" section in them. If you click on that link, it asks for a password, and the rest of the post will open up. So if you would like to read that section, just shoot me off an e-mail and ask me for the password. And then let me know how it works, too. Thanks. I'll post again soon, but for now, this took a great deal of time to work on this.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Password Protect

I am going to put my blog back public, but go with password protected posts. So, if you want to read the full version, please leave a comment and ask. I know many of you from being on here through the years, and I will send you the password. But today is a busy weekend, and I don't have time to fiddle with it more at the moment. I'll get to it.